Youngblood Hawke (1964): Delmer Daves’ Publishing Melodrama, starring James Franciscus, Suzanne Pleshette, and Geneviève Page

Delmer Daves wrote and directed the publishing melodrama Youngblood Hawke, starring James Franciscus, Suzanne Pleshette, and Geneviève Page, adapted from Herman Wouk’s 1962 novel, which was loosely based on the life of Thomas Wolfe.

Youngblood Hawke
Youngblood Hawke (film).jpg

Youngblood Hawke is a Kentucky truck driver who moves to New York City aspiring to becoming a hot-shot writer.

When he meets editor Jeanne Green, she sees great promise in Hawke’s writing and falls for the handsome Kentuckian while helping him get his first book deal.

His first novel is moderately successful, but is soon transformed into a Broadway play by a has-been stage actress.


Hawke’s second novel is heralded and he becomes the toast of the town. He then has an affair with a married socialite.

But then his third novel bombs and also panned by critics. Hawke’s financial state declines and he has to move back to Kentucky.

While in Kentucky working on his next book, he contracts pneumonia just before realizing that Jeanne was his true ideal woman.

Daves had previously made several successful youth melodramas, such as A Summer Place, Parrish, Susan Slade and Rome Adventure, all of which had starred Troy Donahue.

Daves decided to start with Hawke’s rise while driving a truck and end with his recovery in hospital from a near death.

The lead role was originally offered to Warren Beatty who demanded a fee of $200,000 plus script and cast approval. George Peppard, Stuart Whitman and Terence Stamp were also discussed. James Franciscus was cast without even a screen test. Daves saw him in The Outsider and the pilot for Mr Novak. He signed in March 1963.

The female lead went to Suzanne Pleshette, who had made Rome Adventure with director Daves.

James Franciscus as Youngblood Hawke
Suzanne Pleshette as Jeanne Green
Geneviève Page as Frieda Winter
Eva Gabor as Fannie Prince
Mary Astor as Irene Perry
Lee Bowman as Jason Prince
Edward Andrews as Quentin Judd
Don Porter as Ferdie Lax
Mildred Dunnock as Mrs. Sarah Hawke
Kent Smith as Paul Winter Sr.
John Dehner as Scotty Hawke
John Emery as Georges Feydal
Mark Miller as Ross Hodge
Hayden Rorke as Mr. Givney
Werner Klemperer as Mr. Leffer
Mary Lawrence (actress) as Mrs. Givney (uncredited cameo)
Martin Balsam as himself (uncredited cameo)
Pat Cardi as Paul Winter Jr.


Directed, produced by Delmer Daves
Written by Delmer Daves, based on Youngblood Hawke (1962 novel) by Herman Wouk
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr.
Edited by Sam O’Steen
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: November 4, 1964

Running time: 137 minutes


TCM showed the movie on March 31, 2021.